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WDC provides supportive care to a live-stranded common dolphin. Credit: Andrea Spence/IFAW

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Expands Marine Mammal Stranding Network Territory

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation team expands the Greater Atlantic Regional Marine Mammal Stranding Network...
Hysazu Photography | Sara Shimazu

Dam Good News for Southern Resident orcas

Pardon the pun (we've used it before) but we just can't help ourselves.  After decades...
Peter Flood mom and calf

Emergency Petition Seeks to Shield Right Whale Moms, Calves From Vessel Strikes

For Immediate Release, November 1, 2022 WASHINGTON-Conservation groups filed an emergency rulemaking petition with the...
The Yushin Maru catcher ship of the Japanese whaling fleet injures a whale with its first harpoon attempt, and takes a further three harpoon shots before finally killing the badly injured fleeing whale. Finally they drowned the mammal beneath the harpooon deck of the ship to kill it.  Southern Ocean.  07.01.2006

Moves to overturn whaling ban rejected

Last week, the 68th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC, the body that regulates...

Revealed – how whales gulp massive loads of seawater without pain

Researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada, who have been studying the feeding habits of whales that lunge feed, have uncovered the reason why these huge creatures are able to scoop up such massive volumes of water in their mouths without feeling any pain.

This particular group, baleen whales, are known for their pleated throats. The pleats allow the whales to take in huge gulps of water, which they then push out of their mouths with their tongues, past their bristle-like baleen. The water gets forced out, while food (prey) is trapped and swallowed. This is known a lunge feeding.

But, feeding this way isn’t easy. When baleen whales (like the Blue whale) gulp up a mouthful of water to filter for food, a pouch of skin under their chins has to stretch to its limits (expanding by over 150%) in order to hold the heavy load. This stretch should hurt, but new research finds that whale nerves are specially adapted to prevent these giant creatures from feeling pain.

The whales’ nerves are coiled in a tight spiral that allows them to work when stretched. Normally, nerve fibres should not be able to coil so tightly but it appears that these whales have a second level of waviness that allows the nerve fibres to twist around the curves without stretching.